Friday, March 30, 2012

What Message Are We Sending?

Angela's post last Wednesday inspired me. Made me think about the messages we send out to the world, particularly to young adults.
**Image borrowed from Deviantart**

I think about the messages I got growing up and how they shaped me.  As a girl, the primary one was this:

You're just as good as a boy and you can be anything you want to be.

Right on!  Well, almost.  We're so focused on what we want to be when we grow up, and the greatness we will attain.  We head off to college, earn our degrees, start careers that put us on the path to manager, partner, business owner. And then what?

We've proved we're just as good as the boys, but for many of us, there's a pesky thing called a biological clock. And being a stay at home mom now sort of feels like quitting.  The boys don't quit work just because they became dads.  But how do we balance being that mom who sends in homemade cupcakes and the executive who answers client e-mails at 10 pm?  How do we continue with our creative outlets so we don't lose our souls in the process of becoming just as great as our male co-workers?

I'm not sure there is a right answer. Everyone's paths will be different naturally.  But what I do know is that through time, subtle messages get pounded into our heads until we've set unattainable standards for ourselves.  Yes, girls, you CAN do or be anything. But you can't be it all at the same time.  That's the part of the message that gets left out.  You can make partner in your law firm, but that means you can't work part time and attend all your kid's school plays.  You can be an awesome writer/artist/musician in your spare time, but you won't be the world's best spouse if that's where you're channeling your passion.

As authors, we love writing these "kick butt" heroines who save the world and get the boy.  After all, it makes for a good and entertaining story.  But what happens to their school work while they're off battling demons?  What about their family relationships?  Are they simply not as important?  Not to our story lines perhaps, but I wonder if we aren't perpetuating the myth that our girls can be everything all at once when we downplay the crucial elements of our everyday lives.

Maybe not.  I'm no psychology major and I, as a writer, haven't ever given the subtle messages I'm sending that much thought.  But maybe I should. As a victim of society's subtle pressures myself, maybe I ought to be more cautious about what I put out into the world.  And just like everything else, find a balance between good story telling and good living.

What do you think??

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Art of Novel Ninjutsu

It's true. I'm a little ninja-obsessed. But not because I think killing people in their sleep is awesome. Or that I'd look good in black pajamas and toe-socks. It's writing ninjas that I think are cool.

See, writing ninjas train until our writing muscles are wearing and we just can't take any more.

And then we train some more.

We kill our darlings. Slit the throat of our beautiful prose.

We slash pages and pages of worthless stuff.


A writing ninja knows the importance of focus, imagination and feeling. She regularly seeks the opportunity to meditate on her story. 

The writing ninja can write anytime, anywhere. He knows the best time to get the job done is right now.

A writing ninja expects to work. Expects to be awesome. She expects it--and so it is true.

A writing ninja is successful not only because she is fearless and fierce, but also because she doesn't do what's always been done.

A writing ninja shows respect for those who have come before him and he helps those who are following behind.

The writing ninja knows he can always improve; that there is no end to learning. 

Wait. Didn't say this was the art of NOVEL ninjutsu? Sure, I didn't tell you how to write a novel. But I promise you, if you practice the way of the writing ninja, you will write THE END on the most amazing novel you can write. 

Because that's what writing ninjas do--they write, and they conquer.

the writer's dojo

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ah, Young Love!

Whether it's the main story-line or just a sub-plot, romance is one of my favorite parts of any novel or movie. I love that moment where the heroine first sees the hero of the story. Sometimes she hates him. Other times, she looks into his piercing green eyes and feels that first spark of something special. Either way, it's an electric moment for me as a reader. Especially in teen novels.

But why? Why do I love reading about teen romance? I guess it's the same reason I love reading young adult fiction in general. It's all about firsts. We all remember that first time we really fell for a guy, don't we? The boy we grew up sitting next to in math class. The one who never noticed us. Or maybe it was the guy who caught up to us in the parking lot after school to ask us to the Prom. Those first moments where we thought our hearts would practically beat out of our chests. Our hands were clammy and our mouths went dry. Those were terrifying moments, but at the same time, they were exhilarating and fun and beautiful and life-changing.

Every time I read a new teen novel, I find myself looking for those romantic moments. I want to relive the heart-stopping beauty of it all. I want to experience the heroine's hope and uncertainty. I want to know her happiness when she finally does realize that the hero cares about her just as much as she cares about him.

The truth is, a novel doesn't even have to be all-romance all-the-time for me to feel this way. Just look at The Hunger Games. (*Somewhat Spoiler Alert if you haven't read the books) The initial story-line has more to do with how much Katniss loves her sister than any boy in the story. Still, from the moment we see her with Gale out in the woods, we wonder if he's the one. Will they fall in love and manage to stay together somehow? Or will her decision to volunteer for Prim change their fate? Then when Peeta confesses his crush on her during his interview at the Capital, we feel our hearts go out to him. Does he mean it? Is he really going to be forced into a competition to the death with the girl he's always had a thing for? Even though the romance isn't the main focus of the series, it's a huge part of what kept me turning pages.

It's the same with Harry Potter. At the beginning, it's all about friendship. These kids are too young to know love. But we watch them all grow up and we keep turning pages to see who will end up with who? Will Ron ever tell Hermione how he really feels? Will Harry live to find true love? These are questions that carry us forward even when they aren't the main story questions.

Then, of course, there's Twilight. Romance is the focus here. Love is the point of it, really. Love is
the reason we read it. (and maybe even re-read it) It's human nature to root for love. To long for it and to take great satisfaction in it. To even mourn it when it doesn't work out the way we'd hoped. We do it in our own lives, of course, but those are stories that take months - sometimes years - to figure out and to experience. With a novel, we can watch two people meet, fall in love, argue or face death and danger, and eventually come together in one successful and satisfying ending all in a matter of hours. There's something so rewarding about that, isn't there?

So tell me, do you love reading teen romance? What are some of your favorite romantic couples in YA fiction?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Should children's books be content rated?

"What content-rating would you give the Hunger Games book?" my friend asked me.
"Probably the same as the movie.  Thirteen and up, for most kids." I said.
"Why don't they put ratings on books anyway? They do on music, TV, video games, and movies but children's books are so inconsistent. I feel like I have to screen every book my eleven year old picks up."

I couldn't answer my friend except to say that children's books target a broad spectrum of ages, emotional maturities, and reading levels making any rating system difficult if not impossible to apply. Not to mention that everybody seems to have their own opinion of what is appropriate and inappropriate for children.

If I were to draw a spectrum of children's books it might look like this:

Depending on the bookseller, the ages might be different on each of these sections but not by much.

So, what determines where a book falls on the spectrum? It comes down to what ages the book is accessible too, i.e. most of that age group would understand the book and find it interesting. Usually the age of the main character is a good indicator because if the character is having realistic, age appropriate experiences, the book will naturally fall into place on the spectrum. Vocabulary also tends to increase as you move left as does the complexity of the plot and characters. Some people say that MG books have main characters that are more internally focused where YA characters are externally focused but it's not hard to come up with exceptions to that rule.

So why do I think it would be almost impossible to rate books like movies? Children develop at different rates and have difficulty with varying aspects of life. A twelve year old (sixth grader) might not be able to read Harry Potter before bed without having nightmares but could read Wintergirls and have a deep discussion on the real threat of anorexia. For other kids it would be the opposite. Some people are sensitive to any sexual content. (I believe this was why Scholastic dropped Breaking Dawn). Others don't like violence, drug use, or swearing. All of these become more prevalent as you move left on the spectrum but it really depends on the book. 

Also, I think there's a vast difference between what we read and what we see. When we read, our minds must produce the picture from the words and if you don't have the life experience to produce that picture accurately you won't "see" it. For example, a young person who reads Breaking Dawn might have a very different picture of what happens in the bedroom scene than an adult. That's very different from TV, video, or movies where the picture is painted for you.

What do you think?  Should children's books be content-rated like movies or TV shows? Do you think there are topics, words, or experiences that simply don't belong in any children's books?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Strung to Pieces

A hush fills the auditorium. The awestruck audience sit on the edge of their seats, focused on the graceful marionette dancing across the stage, his strings blending into the background as if the puppet were a real boy. When the curtain drops and the fans jump to their feet to applaud the performance, the puppeteer steps upon the stage to take her bow.

A flawless performance. Or so it seems.

What would have happened if that puppeteer had ten puppets to manipulate at once? Her focus spread across many instead of just one? That audience probably would have left within the first five minutes. Nobody wants to watch a poor performance.

Say we do the opposite and have ten manipulators to one puppet--each in charge of a string. Suppose we replace them with all our goals and the marionette with time. What do you think will happen?

Many of us, whether a student or an author or a stay-at-home mom, believe we can do it all. I'm one of those peeps. But lately, the strings are being pulled in different directions. Soon, the marionette will be shattered into several pieces. What good would that do?

We need to take a different approach.

Yes, we can do it all, just not at the same time. We spread ourselves too thin, and can't perform our best in what we're trying to accomplish.

This may seem like a no-brainer to some, but I've recently come to this conclusion. Taking a step back to focus on the top few priorities in life, the most important things, will produce far more happiness and success than attempting to accomplish the vast list we create for ourselves. See, I think that's a key to enjoying the journey. To me, there is no point in reaching a goal if the results aren't standing ovation worthy and I didn't have a good time getting there.

We are given a certain amount of hours in each day. Some think it's not enough. Others believe it's just the right amount. Whatever the answer may be, make what you do with it a joyful ride.



Angela Carlie writes fiction about young people. She's the author of the Lords of Shifters series, Dream Smashers, and Land of Corn Chips. She lives in the beautiful state of Washington with her husband and teenage son and crew of furry critters. Traveling, hiking, kayaking, reading, and writing are activities that rock her world. For more information, check out or

Monday, March 19, 2012

Creating Your Own Cover

The first thing you need to decide when making your own book cover is the size. The average size for a digital novel is 6 x 9 (inches). The pixel count is 1800 x 2700 at 300dpi. Be sure you get the highest quality photos available. You'll want your cover to ROCK! It's the first thing potential readers will see and it could mean the difference between a sell, or them moving on to the millions of other e-books available to them.

I had an idea of what I wanted my cover to look like. That's good in some ways, bad in others. Because I had the picture in my head, it made it very difficult to find the right photo. I scanned hundreds of stock photos on three different sites before finding it. And it's PERFECT.

This is Kira, the main character in my YA Paranormal Romance, BOUND. Don't you just love her eyes?  Okay, so I love the photo, but right away I see problems. For one, it has an ugly blue background and it's taken in landscape, not portrait, which will limit how much of the photo I can actually use. But I still love it, so I played with the "watermarked" version until I knew it would work, then ordered the high quality version from DREAMSTIME. Here it is:

As you can see, I flipped it horizontally. I didn't want her nose on the spine of the book. Something you need to consider when making your own. Think of the placement. Now I needed to crop it and get rid of that background. I use Photoshop CS3 to edit photos, but there are a ton of free programs out there.
This was the most time consuming and tedious step. I didn't want to lose the integrity of the photo or all her whispy hairs, so I blew it up and literally erased one pixel at a time along her hair line.

Now for the back ground. I spent several more hours (yes hours) searching for the right background, but didn't find it. Then I remembered a few photos I took when camping a few years ago. Here's the one I used.

I cropped the section I wanted and placed it behind the portrait of Kira. When I was finished, I realized I had yet another problem. UGH! The portrait didn't fill the 6 x 9 inch cover, at least not at the size I wanted. You can't see it very well above, but there is blank space at the top and bottom. I didn't want her face any larger and I didn't want to distort it by stretching it.  What I decided to do was fill the space with black and then texture it a little.

Here it is!


Here are some tips to keep in mind while in the creating process:

1) THINK AHEAD!  Thank goodness for my friend Ali Cross who asked a very important question. What about the other covers? Will you use the same model?  *panic* I hadn't thought of that. Frantic, I searched the stock photos and luckily found a whole slew of pictures taken of this same model. Whew!  I've since purchased two for the same price as this one. Now I'm set for the entire series. I've also saved all three photos in several different places in case my computer crashes.

If your book is the first in a series, make sure you like the style of the first cover because the rest of the books in the series should match. I'll use the same font and place the title and my name in the same positions. The only real difference will be the photo used, and even that will be similar. The photos I purchased for the other covers are all head shots of this same model. Uniformity is key here. You want your "fans" to recognize your work. (Yes, you're going to have fans.) SQUEEEEE!

2) THINK SMALL!  Remember that this cover will be a little tiny thumbnail on or wherever you choose to sell your book online. Make sure it rocks TEENY. Is the title visible? How about the author's name?

3) THINK POD!  Are you doing a printed version (print on demand)? If so, you'll have to create a back cover as well. For mine I used the same background photo of the forest. I darkened it a little so my cover copy would show up and then added a fun element. The story has a white tiger in it, so I cropped one from a free stock site and placed it in the forest. I still might darken it a little more, but you can at least get the idea here. What do you think?

You'll also need to create the book spine detail, but that should be easy enough. Be sure to leave room at the bottom right for your BAR CODE and ISBN number. And you'll want to leave plenty of room for those endorsement quotes from Stephanie Meyer and J.K. Rowling, right?  RIGHT?

If you'd like to know more about creating book covers, join the INDELIBLES on Tuesday, March 27 on Twitter for #IndieChat. Heather McCorkle will join me and a few of the other Indelible authors to answer any questions you may have about covers. It starts at 9:00pm EST.  


The cover for Christine's second novel, BROKEN, will be revealed on April 1st, 2012. Watch for it!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Country, when Country wasn't cool

I’m ripping off the Band-Aid today.

I’m getting real.

I’m coming clean.

I’m a Taylor Swift fan.

For years I’ve been saying that I listen to her music because it helps me get into the teenage mind when I write – most specifically, Zellie, because I think a 16-year-old pastor’s daughter is definitely Tay Swift’s target demographic.

I’m not her target demographic. I’ll be thirty-seven in May. I drive a mini-van. When I was her age, Grunge music was all the rage. I have the flannels and long-haired college radio DJ’ing ex-boyfriend to prove it.

The last time I confessed to enjoying girly pop music…the name Debbie Gibson comes to mind. On the bus ride to school, Bill Ellis asked me if I liked Bon Jovi or Michael Jackson better and I said I loved Electric Youth.

One tends to remember the most embarrassing moments in their life.

After that, I never admitted to liking anything that wasn’t Cool Guy Approved – The Mighty Lemondrops, The Violent Femmes, Kate Bush, They Might Be Giants, Blondie, The Cure, Uncle Tupelo, The Pixies, The Replacements. I genuinely liked and like these artists.

But when I was home alone hairbrush singing in the mirror…I was all about Showtunes, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Paula Abdul (!), Celine Dion and Mariah Carey.

And forget New Country. That was like owning up to thinking it was okay to marry your cousin.

Hence, there was a period of time where I kept all of my Faith Hill CD’s in Ani DiFranco cases.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with liking Taylor Swift, or Mariah or Faith – it’s just not me that’s supposed to.

But I do, and not in an ironic guilty pleasure sort of way.

I like Taylor because she writes her own songs and because she learned how to play the banjo. She’s not the best singer in the world, but her intentions are good, her words are heartfelt and she tells a great story.

She writes about longing and forgiveness, first love, passion, heartbreak and getting your feelings hurt. I find her songs to always be in the moment and I never doubt that she’s gone through the emotions she’s singing about herself.

And that makes her relatable.

Who hasn’t loved someone that didn’t love them, or wished they could take something back that they’ve said?

Who among us hasn’t wanted to ask our critics, “why ya gotta be so mean?”

Plus, she basically called out John Mayer for being John Mayer-y in Dear John and I think that’s something we can all get behind.

Change is my favorite Taylor Swift song, mostly because it’s loud and rockin’ and makes me feel like I’m kickin’ ass and takin’ names.

Shall we commence to get our girly rock on?


Stacey Wallace Benefiel is the author of the Zellie Wells trilogy, the Day of Sacrifice series, The Toilet Business - a collection of essays, and multiple short stories. She sometimes goes by S.W. Benefiel, but knows she's not foolin' anybody. Stacey lives in an orange house in Beaverton, OR with her husband and their two kids.

Her website is:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

STRUCTURE Is For the (Thunder)Birds

Writing is so much fun! It's also a process. Dan Wells, author of I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER... kidding. He's the author of the I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER series, and his latest, PARTIALS, taught an amazing class on story structure.

When writing, painting, or even packing boxes to move from one house to another, structure helps you know how to start, the path to follow, and where to end.

Here's the basics to the seven point system:

Plot Turn 1 - Call to adventure
Pinch 1 - Apply Pressure
Pinch 2 - Apply even more Pressure
Plot Turn 2 - Resolve to do something - The power is in you (your MC)

Here's the system put into action with HARRY POTTER. 

Hook - sad little Harry under the stairs

Plot Turn 1 - finds out he's a wizard

Pinch - the scary Troll he and his friends battle

Midpoint - Harry sees the scary guy (I think it's voldemort) sucking on the Unicorn blood and he resolves to do something to get the bad guy

Pinch 2 - they go down the hole and his friends all get taken out by the traps (big chess for Hermoine and Ron- remember)

Plot Turn 2 - Harry is alone and he has the stone in his pocket. He realizes that the power is in him because he's pure and his mother's love is what saved him and allowed him to live so he knows that's how he'll destroy (for a bit) Voldemort.

Resolution - Harry succeeds.

So freakin cool!!! If you're interested in watching the series for yourself, here's the YOUTUBE link for the first one.

How do you write? Structure aka Plotter or Panster?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cover Reveal: How to Break up with an Alien

The cover for the highly anticipated second book in the My Alien Romance series is here!

Face it, long distance relationships in high school are hard,
especially when the other one in the relationship is an alien.
Alex Bianchi may have survived an intergalactic battle, but that still doesn’t excuse her from her senior year or high school, or qualify her for any sort of scholarship. To make up for college tuition costs, she takes a job at a local coffee shop. If only coffee could solve all of her problems.

As Alex’s senior year progresses, everything changes and she can’t figure out if it is interstellar or if it is just time to break up with an alien.

The book wont be coming out until June, but you can sign up to request an ARC copy here.
Or add it to your GoodReads.

What do you think is going to happen on this part of Ace and Alex's journey? If this is book two, what do you think will happen in book three?


Magan is a self-proclaimed geek-to-glam poster child who channels her inner geek by writing science fiction for teens, even though she slept with a night light until she was in middle school for fear of alien attacks. She now lives with her husband, daughter, and dog in central Illinois where she still sleeps with a night light...just in case.  Her debut novel HOW TO DATE AN ALIEN is available now through Amazon and Barnes and Noble in Ebook and Paperback. If you have nothing better to do you can follow her online through her website, blogFacebook, and Twitter.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Bookstore of the Future

I write futuristic science fiction, so a lot of my Google searches end with the words
 "... of the future."

These days everyone's walking around with a device in their hands (iPad, iPhone, iPluggedIn), and it increasingly feels like the Future Is Now. Being a gadget person, I'm not averse to any of this (quite the opposite), but I wonder what will happen to bookstores. I used to pedal my bike to the local mini-mall, where an independent bookstore was tucked in a tiny space next to the Sav-On. Every week, I would spend about 1/2 an hour scanning the Science Fiction shelves searching for just the right book to spend my allowance on. I used to dream of having a room in my house, wall-to-wall with books.

Like this, only less stuffy.

As recently as a year ago, I shopped at the bricks-n-mortar bookstores as much as possible, hoping to keep them afloat. Then they converted half their floor space to toys, and more often than not I couldn't get the book I wanted. Sure, they could order it, but hey, I can do that from my house! Without paying for gas (or shipping, since I'm a "member"). It drove home for me that giant bookshelves of books was possibly the least sensible way to gain access to stories and would one day (soon) become a museum exhibit of the way that books used to be distributed. That sentence will make some people shudder (and I might even be one of them), but instead of becoming mired in nostalgia, I pictured the real Bookstore of the Future. The one that would really happen.

And what I - author, reader, book lover - would want it to be.
I want to a bookstore that looks like an Apple store on steroids.

I want a digital store front, with animated touchscreens in the children's section.

I want a place where a group can gather around a screen for a skyped author visit.

I want a personalized search bot that finds me all the books I will love. Then print it while I sip tea or have it shipped to my home. I want a cozy place where people gather to have their writer's and book club meetings. I want to sit in an overstuffed chair by myself or with a friend while we talk books and buy them on our devices or a screen built into the table.

I want a place that welcomes local authors as well as touring celebrities. That hosts writing competitions for youth and classes for literature enjoyment, analysis, and creation. That provides a community gathering place that celebrates all things literary.

I want a place that serves coffee and pastries in the morning, a High Tea and Book afternoon affair, and wine-and-cheese events in the evenings.

I want a section where I can play and learn about the latest gadgets that will house my personal story collection next. 

Will the name on the outside of this Bookstore of the Future be Amazon?

It wouldn't surprise me. But no one has a lock on the future - it's there for the grabbing by the one with the most imagination.

Is your Future Bookstore an Indie Boutique filled with the smell of paper and ink? 
Or a Tech Wonderland like Corning's Day of Glass?

What do you want in your Future Bookstore?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hey, Laura Pauling here. First time posting on the blog! Glad you're here.

The other day the secret agents at YA CONFIDENTIAL posted some Youtube videos. Go take a look. I'll wait. Scary, huh? But maybe not so hard to believe. I know lots of grown up girls who ask the same question.

I can't help but remember my daughter dancing around the house, the yellow crinoline skirts of Belle swirling at her feet. She was pretty fickle for a three-year-old princess for two minutes later, she transformed into Cinderella and then Sleeping Beauty after that.

Thankfully, girls grow out of the princess stage. But I'd say that on the inside, no matter how hold we are, each of us, as girls/women want to be loved, want to feel special, want to feel beautiful. But I say that beauty lies not in how we look but in how we act and what we stand for.

And for that reason, I love finding kick-butt heroines in the books I read.

Every Tuesday we go to the library. Over the years of scouring the bookshelves; and more recently, virtual shelves, I’ve figured something out.

Girls rock.

Girls are smart. (Hermoine)

Girls fight in battles. (Hunger Games)

Girls survive being the outsider. (Open Minds)

Girls taste the salt air as their pirate ship crashes through the waves. (Dust of a Hundred Dogs)

Girls face the wilderness to find their loved ones. (Untraceable)

Girls play football. (Dairy Queen)

Girls plan and pull off giant art cons. (Heist Society)

Girls solve mysteries while discovering their special powers. (Beautiful Demons)

Girls survive isolation. (Shatter Me)

Girls solve mysteries up in space. (Across the Universe)

Girls fight to be who they want to be. (Become)

Girls can figure out why their best friend died. (The Liar Society)

These girls are beautiful.

Those are the kinds of stories I love to read. Those are the kinds of stories I love to write. Girls of any age in action. Figuring out who they are. Dealing with life. Fighting for their friends and family. Or even their lives. (And hopefully having a bit of fun at the same time.)

It was nice to meet you! Say hello in the comments and tell me about your favorite heroines in books you like to read. What do they fight for? Where do they find their beauty?

Then, head on over to YA Confidential for the cover reveal of my debut YA novel, A Spy Like Me. Yay!

Then check out my blog to read the first two chapters and enter to win a pre-order of Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig and an ebook of Watched by Cindy M. Hogan.

And if you'd like, sign up to receive an arc of A Spy Like Me, and/or participate in the release day in May!

Thanks so much!

photo credit

Friday, March 2, 2012

Hunger Games! Is The Movie Going To Get It Right?

In 21 days (not that I’m counting . . .), the wait for The Hunger Games movie will be over! And I, like many others, will be standing in a long line to see it! And, also like many others, my excitement will be tempered by a nagging voice in the back of my head that will be worriedly asking:

“What if the movie people screw it up?!”

I’m not going to name any names – let’s just say that I have been disappointed in the past by movies based on books I really enjoyed. I’m not saying it’s an easy job to turn a beloved book into an equally awesome movie - I’m sure that it is an unimaginably difficult task that I am in no way qualified to comment on. But what can I say? My emotional connection to certain books makes me feel quite justified in judging the movies.

Plus, it’s just fun to talk about movies you’re really excited to see. What else have we got to do for the next 21 days? (Again, not that I’m counting!)

Here are my preliminary thoughts on the movie, based purely on the promotional materials I have seen. Please feel free to argue with me, agree with me, applaud my brilliance or call me out for being silly. In fact, to encourage you to do just that, I will be giving away a copy of The Hunger Games: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion to the author of my favorite comment left on this post.

To win: leave a comment below, along with your email (or some other way of getting in touch with you, in case you win!), telling me why you agree/disagree with something in this post. The comment that strikes me as the most awesome (for whatever reason) will win the Movie Companion! (BTW, I’m flipping through it now and it’s pretty dang cool – just saying). The contest will end this Sunday, March 4, at 10pm EST and the winner will be announced on my personal blog on Monday, March 5. (Click HERE to get to my blog)

Ok, so my thoughts on the movie:

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss – I have not seen Winter’s Bone or X-Men: First Class, so I don’t really know much about her as an actress. But she definitely seems to look the part, doesn’t she? And, according to the Movie Companion, Suzanne Collins apparently sat in on her audition and gave her the thumb’s up, so that’s got to be a good sign!

Gale and Peeta - When I first saw this picture, I assumed that the person who wrote the caption got the two guys mixed up – surely he/she meant to say that the blonde guy (Josh Hutcherson) would be playing “Gale” and the brunette (Liam Hemsworth) would be playing “Peeta”? That was how I saw them in my head – in fact, Josh Hutcherson is the spitting image of the “Gale” from my imagination (literally down to the bone structure). I have no idea why this is – my head is a weird place. (By the way, I know that at least one other Indelible Author shares my opinion on this – so I’m not the only weird one!) This perceived reversal really threw me at first, but I’ve gotten used to it now and I am fairly confident that I will not spend the entire movie wondering how in the world Gale ended up in the arena instead of Peeta.

Lenny Kravitz as Cinna – My initial thought here was, “What? Cinna doesn’t sing.” But this photo makes it pretty clear that he and Jennifer Lawrence nailed the emotional connection between Cinna and Katniss (which was one of my favorite parts of the book), so I am now fully Team Kravitz.

Amanda Stenberg as Rue – First of all, how cute is this little girl? Second, I was surprised that some people were shocked when Rue was “revealed” to be black (see HERE, for a discussion of race and The Hunger Games). I pictured Rue as black when I read the book, although I do have to admit that I sometimes pictured her and Prim interchangeably. For me, they were essentially the same character, representing the innocence that other characters went to great (and inevitably futile) lengths to protect.

Donald Sutherland as President Snow – I’m pretty sure I was actually picturing Donald Sutherland in this role while I was reading the book, so I’m very happy with this choice. No one can play elegantly crazy like this man!

Woody Harrelson as Haymitch – The Haymitch in my head was older and fatter than Harrelson, but I’ll bet he has the wit to pull this off. I enjoyed his relationship with Katniss in the book and how they grew to really understand one another, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that is translated onto screen.

The Wacky Capital Fashions – If the awesomely crass outfit of Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) in this photo is any indication of what is to come, I can’t wait to see more of these.

The Look of District 12 – District 12 was not a nice place inside of my head, but I was still surprised by the stark images of the central square in the latest trailer. The District 12 in my mind's eye was a bit wilder and dirtier, with everything sort of sprinkled with coal dust. In the movie, District 12 appears more reminiscent of a concentration camp (particularly with the clothing worn by the residents). But I think I actually like this change – it’s more uncomfortable than the generous images in my head, and thus more powerful.

(Sorry I don't have an image for this one, but you can watch the latest trailer HERE)

Anyway, those are my thoughts! Few books have captured my imagination lately the way that Hunger Games did, so I am really looking forward to being captivated all over again by the movie. What about you? Do you agree or disagree with anything I’ve said here? Did I miss anything? Don’t forget to leave your comment for a chance to win a copy of The Official Illustrated Movie Companion! Cheers!